why not plan to record a "video family history?"
by Rob Huberman
November 29, 2004
What is a video family history? It's like a family "storybook" narrated by members of your family-parents and grandparents, brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins or even yourself. It's a way to document your family's heritage and experiences, featuring relatives who knew your ancestors and can recall the significant places and events that shaped their lives.
And it's all produced with your camcorder.
Such a difference today's video technology offers in documenting the sights and sounds of our lives-especially when compared to those old home movies-with no sound except for the hum of the projector.
Not so with today's camcorders, which produce superior images under average light conditions and even record sound in stereo. Almost everybody owns one or at least has access to one.
Maybe you're even already a "pro" at videotaping your family events and vacations. Or maybe your camcorder just spends a lot of time in the closet since the novelty of recording everything in sight has worn off. In either case, why not turn this year's holiday time into a family history time that can get the whole family involved?
Everybody has a favorite story to tell about his or her life, and given the right opportunity, most people like to express their opinions or talk about they've done. Sharing their life in a video family history interview often stimulates long-forgotten memories, which can lead to surprisingly wonderful personal and family stories that might otherwise be lost forever-had you not taken the time to capture and document them on video tape.
Time with our older generations is limited. Unfortunately, most of us never realize, until it is too late, how valuable videotaped memories will become until the opportunity no longer exists to record our family members.
My wife's father passed away battling cancer, three years after we had videotaped his family history while he was still healthy. When she, her mother and brother first watched the tape again years later, they were amazed (and thrilled) to see and hear him again-vibrant, animated, and telling stories they had completely forgotten. Now our children can also watch that tape, 'spend time' with him, and get a better idea of just what their grandfather was like.
Compiling your video family
history is probably much easier than you think. It doesn't require
any complicated equipment, technical procedures or interviewing
experience. All you really need is your camcorder, a video tape,
a tripod, any TV to watch onand a good list of questions that
encourages people to talk to you and helps to guide them through
their thoughts and experiences. Sometimes during the family history
interview, individuals even forget they are being recorded and
just "take a trip down memory lane."
So, with everything in place, all that is left is to let your camcorder capture your subject's special personality, mannerisms and expressions as your questions explore not only your family history, but your loved one's thoughts, emotions and spirit.
Your video tapes will be filled with the wealth of experiences and richness of life these special people have to offer as you compile your video family history. Chances are, you will learn something new about them and maybe, even about yourself. And without a doubt, these tapes will one day be priceless.
So, if you are interested in your family history or have aging relatives like grandparents or great-grandparents that you would like young children to be able to "get to know" long after they have passed-on, now is the time to start compiling their video family history. Who knows what "family treasures" you'll discover throughout the years. All you need to do is start asking!